When it comes to sex there are several heath benefits. We've put together this list to help you learn everything you need to know.
Nobody needs to sing the praises of sex, even though it may have been the reason singing was invented in the first place.
Sex is pleasurable, intimate and extremely fun but is it good for you?
In broad terms yes, sex is great for your health, but in specific terms, sex is critical for your physical and mental health, for a myriad of reasons.
We'll get into the how's and why's that make sex healthy, and we're going to look at who should be having the most sex and how frequently.
The sheer amount of scientifically proven information on the benefits of sex will blow your mind.
Worried about your immune system? Well, sex can help with that, and your heart health, and emotional intimacy.
Sexual activity decreases as we age but it doesn't seem to come from a decreased desire for sex.
The disparity of sexual activity in men and women over the age of 50 is dramatic; in this particular study, only about 30% of the women interviewed were sexually active, compared to nearly 90% of the men.
This is unfortunate because regular intercourse during and after menopause can have positive effects on libido and general health in women. It's likely that if more people were aware of the benefits of having sex for your health, the more likely they would pursue it.
Aside from the obvious perks of having regular sex, these particular health boosts are beneficial to men and women in general.
People who engage in regular sex have higher levels of the decidedly unsexily named salivary immunoglobulin A.
This means more antibodies for common diseases like rhinovirus and other germs that cause the common cold, among other infections. Anyone who interacts with a lot of people on a daily basis can benefit from a constant boost to their immune system and sex is a fun way to do that, it turns out.
As with any regular physical activity, sex improves blood flow, heart strength and lowers blood pressure, by the same mechanisms that jogging or other cardiovascular exercise does.
30 minutes of structured physical activity a day has a dramatic benefit on your endurance, blood oxygenation and overall heart health. Now imagine getting that benefit with your partner having sex instead of dueling ropes or something else entirely less fun.
Right before and during orgasm, your body releases oxytocin and endorphins.
These little neurochemicals block pain, anxiety and a slew of other negative thoughts and feelings, and they're more concentrated during sex than even under the influence of certain drugs.
By binding to opioid receptors, they inhibit the release of pain-causing tachykinins which does exactly what it sounds like. Effectively, more sex equals less pain.
The joke that men tend to fall asleep immediately after sex might be an overused trope on film, but it's not too far off from the biology of things.
Blood vessels dilate, endorphins flood our bodies, and we simply feel our most relaxed post-coitus, and this is a great way to fall right to sleep.
Serotonin also has a large role to play in the sleep-inducing effects of orgasm, and it also makes us feel pretty good. Serotonin's stress-reduction factor also helps improve sleep and sleep makes us more resilient to stress, so having sex helps initiate a cycle that makes has sweeping, cascading benefits for our health.
The release of dopamine through sex makes you want more sex - it's a neurochemical whose role it is to make you want to do a rewarding activity again, for another chance at said reward.
The benefit here is that simply having more dopamine circulating can improve your likelihood of doing beneficial activities, particularly if they are relatable to the sex you just had.
For instance, as a partner, if you cleaned the house and your spouse is extremely pleased and it leads to sex, the dopamine will increase your motivation for future helping-around-the-house events.
Simply put, if you want another layer of general motivation for anything in your life, have more sex and produce more dopamine.
This is especially beneficial in an age where we burn our dopamine production out with social media and constantly accessible information via mobile devices. Put the phone down and have more sex.
Sure there are more efficient ways to getting exercise but there's literally no way that's more fun than a 30-minute romp.
Prolonged sexual intercourse - that is, 30 minutes or more - has a beneficial effect akin to jogging on both men and women. This is protective of the cardiovascular system, but, like jogging, also burns calories and revs up the metabolism.
If you were to only get 30 minutes of increased, structured physical activity per week and it was sex, then you'd still benefit from the array of positive health impacts that exercise provides.
The positive, feel-good effects of post-sex glow can improve your daily interactions.
Whether you're being stressed by work, school or some other trigger, sex can keep you smiling the next day. The improved attitude can be boosted the more frequent the sex is, so make it a point to schedule regular sessions with your partner.
Sexual intercourse has been shown to improve responses on self-esteem tests.
While it might not sound surprising that someone who is having sex on a regular basis, to have science that backs up the idea is particularly powerful. Anyone can benefit from this and everyone can benefit from a boost in self-confidence, especially college students, on whom this study focused,
While the benefits of regular sex for men and women, in general, are varied and broad, there are gender-specific benefits as well.
With that in mind, let's look at how sex benefits each gender.
Studies have shown that across all age groups, men tend to be more sexually active than women and so are more likely to benefit from its health-boosting effects.
Because regular sex is protective against chronic diseases of aging like coronary artery disease, stroke and certain forms of cancer, regular sex is critically important.
Specifically for men who have intercourse with a partner, the blood-flow boosting effects of sex are increased beyond even the basic, non-gendered benefit.
This study found that not only did regular sexual intercourse lower blood pressure in men better than masturbation, it also protected against the influence of events that cause high blood pressure.
Since men are at a significantly greater risk of heart disease than women, this is a statistic to write home about.
Men who ejaculate with more frequency - more than 20 times per month on average - are 33% less likely to get prostate cancer than men who ejaculated no more than seven times per month.
Though there is no definitive causal agent identified, it is presumed that regular ejaculation removes anything in the prostate that could damage and contribute to cancer.
It is worth noting that the bottom line here is ejaculation; this particular benefit can be gained through masturbation as well.
For couples trying to conceive, less sex or sex only around the window of ovulation is actually hindering their attempts.
Studies have shown that daily sex increases the volume of semen per ejaculation rather dramatically, particularly following a period where sex was infrequent.
In short, the more you and your partner practice, the more likely you are to succeed when it's game time.
Particularly as men age, they are beset by an increased risk of mental health disorders.
While there are many contributing factors, a feeling of social detachment is often to blame. Regular sex - particularly with a consistent partner - increases feelings of connection, intimacy and belonging in men.
While the health benefits of sex cannot be ignored on the physical end of the spectrum, there are tremendous benefits to psychological health as well.
While it's likely due to the biologically imperative nature of procreation, sex makes humans more critical, logical and analytical in the proceeding 24 hours.
In men, this effect is somewhat stronger than it is with women. Sex also appears to improve memory afterward, boosting both recall and formation of new memories.
Psychologist David Weeks found in his research that people over 45 who regularly engage in sex were perceived to be 5-7 years younger looking than their chronological age.
Additionally, the many health benefits of sex have been shown to increase lifespan on average for both men and women. In particular, however, sexually active men appeared younger, both due to their behavior and their skin tone and quality.
The pheromones your body releases during and after sex make you more attractive to future potential mates.
As a man who intends to stay sexually active, this could be the biggest reason to keep that streak alive.
We've spent a great deal of time detailing why sex is good for you in a broad sense, and specifically for men, so it's time we look at how women benefit as well.
The benefits of regular sex for women actually increase quite a bit as women enter their 40s and 50s, particularly during and after menopause.
After childbirth and as women age, pelvic floor muscle strength tends to decline, leading to loss of bladder control in many cases.
Regular sex can increase pelvic floor strength, giving you great control and reliability over your bladder function. This can be very important when a mother enters menopause and certain hormonal factors increase the frequency of urination.
As with the bladder control benefits demonstrated above, improved pelvic floor muscle strength through regular sex also makes labor easier.
Stronger muscles before birth also makes recovery after birth significantly faster.
If you're approaching your due date, you've probably heard that sex can make you go into labor.
While that's not exactly true, the prostaglandins in ejaculate can make your cervix get ready for birth much faster and make labor easier.
Menopause can make women less interested in sex due to a decrease in estrogen causing mental and physical changes. Regular sex can improve the strength and lubrication of the vagina, and decrease menopause-associated negative sexual effects.
It can also increase blood flow to the clitoris and vagina, which in turn makes sex feel better.
For women across all age demographics, regular sex at midlife can increase both estrogen levels and blood flow, which in turn increases the desire for sex.
If you're in a relationship and your interest in sex is waning, particularly as you age, scheduling sex can improve your sex drive.
In addition to the pain-reducing effects of orgasms in general, there is a specific benefit to women experiencing period cramps.
Sex appears to reduce the frequency of cramps and reduces the overall pain associated with them.
This occurs for two reasons - the first is that the contractions of orgasm and subsequent release of the muscles of the uterus causes them to relax in general.
The second is the release of feel-good and analgesic endorphins that block pain.
While it boosts estrogen levels in younger women as well, it's more acutely important in women facing or in the middle of menopause.
Estrogen levels increase dramatically after sex and increase levels of this hormone plump skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Increased estrogen levels also combat osteoporosis in older women, preventing or reducing the impact of bone loss as we age.
It's worth noting that the bone-protective effect can also benefit men with the post-coital release of testosterone.
The human body has several types of immunoglobulins, but for the purposes of this particular benefit, we're talking about immunoglobulin A and G, or IGA and IGG respectively.
Immunoglobulin A is present in the highest amounts in women during the follicular phase of their menstrual cycle, which is right before ovulation.
The issue is that IGA interferes with the efficacy and movement of sperm and other aspects associated with fertilization.
Immunoglobulin G is present more during the luteal phase, right after ovulation, and doesn't bother aspects of fertilization. IGA treats sperm like an invader because essentially it is, but the regular presence of sperm appears to reduce the amount of IGA present during ovulation.
Effectively, regular sex primes the woman's body to be less hostile to sperm during ovulation, making conception more likely.
While having sex often boils down to desire and the powerfully attractive nature of orgasms, there are many incredible reasons to have sex for your health. For both men and women, regular sex:
While it's not to say that there might be ways to achieve some of these benefits through exercise or some other non-sexual means, sex is a biological imperative for a reason.
If nothing else, sex should be part of your healthy living routine along with exercise and other health-positive activities.
Adding supplements to your diet can also enhance your sexual vitality. Supplements come in many forms such as creams, vitamins, sprays and powders.
Before taking supplements for your sexual health be sure to speak with your doctor to ensure that it is safe for you to take.
Also, be sure to do your research on the maker of the supplement and efficacy of its claims.
There are hundreds of different companies that make outlandish claims to boost your sexual performance, increase the size of the male penis and all sorts of things. Most of these "vitamins" are simply caffeine pills with an added placebo effect.
Promescent offers a clinically studied supplement called, VitaFLUX that was designed for both men and women.
Benefits may include:
Sex is certainly healthy and it's an important part of maintaining romantic relationships.
While sex might be the reason we go out of our way to succeed in our lives and win affection, regular sex is a good way to ensure we release the dopamine to keep succeeding.
The euphoric feelings associated with endorphins and oxytocin released during intercourse can even help us fight depression and anxiety.
The health of our entire cardiovascular system is improved by regular sex, and our chances of certain cancers are decreased.
The more we have sex, the better our chances of conceiving a baby, and scheduling sex ensures that a new baby doesn't ruin our relationship with our spouse.
In short, sex is powerful, fun and incredibly beneficial to your mind and body - as if you really needed another reason to have more.
Dr Laurence Levine is a Professor of Urology and practices at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. He is focused specifically on Male Sexual Health and is past President of the Sexual Medicine Society of North America (SMSNA). Dr. Levine graduated from the University of Colorado School of Medicine where he received his MD and completed his training in Urology at the Harvard Program in Boston.
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